After a recent dinner out, my dad and I popped into a tiny grocery store and picked up a random sampling of items: Mexican cactus fruit, unusually flavored popsicles (think salted chili cucumber), and a bag of dried white mulberries from Turkey.
That’s one of the things I love about my dad, and something I think I inherited: food curiosity. He’s known to order the most unusual dish on the menu, while I can’t stop experimenting with new ingredients.
Tonight we’d both expected the popsicles to serve as dessert, but we instead ended up polishing off the mulberries before we knew it. They were simply addictive: sweet, tender and almost crispy, with warm notes of vanilla and a buttery essence.
I couldn’t stop thinking about those mulberries after my dad went home. I meditated on their delicate earthy flavor and their complex texture akin to dried figs. The next day, I bought another bagful and paired them with browned butter, oats, and nutmeg. The concoction proved not only to pay tribute to the fruit, but also to exalt it to a wondrous new level: soft, spiced mulberry oat cookies.
Mulberry oat cookies
Makes 24–28 small cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 cup rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup dried white mulberries
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small to medium saucepan, heat the butter over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally and gently. Let cook just until melted butter is medium brown and fragrant, being careful not to burn.
Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. (Browned butter is often strained at this point, in order to remove the sandy milk solids, but not in these cookies — I wanted to use all parts of the nutty deliciousness let those slightly smoky speckles shine alongside the complementary flavors.)
Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the pan of lukewarm browned butter, whisking until mixed. Transfer to a large bowl, and make sure the temperature is not too hot (warm room temperature at most) before adding the egg. Beat in the egg until completely incorporated.
Sift over the butter mixture: flour, baking soda and powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir well, until a smooth pasty dough is formed. Fold in oats and mulberries until evenly dispersed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl with spatula. (Unless they’re really large and sharp, there’s no need to remove the berry stems; they soften as they bake.)
Using about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, form dough balls and place them 2 inches apart from one another on the lined cookie sheets; you should have about 24–28 little cookies. Place in freezer for at least 15 minutes, preheating the oven to 350 F while the raw cookies chill.
(At this point, you can store the frozen dough balls in a sealed container and bake at your convenience within a week or two.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from oven and let them sit on the hot cookie sheets for 10 minutes before touching or moving. Once cooled, store cookies in an airtight container if not eating right away.
With their soft, tender bite and their deliciously distinctive flavors, mulberry oat cookies are a new favorite in my crowd. Warm with molasse-sy brown sugar and rich browned butter, the chewy, whole mulberries find a perfect home in a hearty and succulent format. Speckles of butter and spice bring on the decadence, while whole wheat and oats offer a balance of wholesomeness. This combination of qualities will make dad pleased, and it’s definitely time to bake him some, since my first few batches disappeared instantly.
NOTE: I find browned butter to be heavenly, but when short on time, these cookies work just as well with 1/2 cup softened butter instead; just cream it with the sugar and egg. To add even more intricacy to the flavors, a spoonful of orange zest would make a nice addition to the dough.
Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers where this post first appeared.